Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Gratitude - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Gratitude

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:6 Release Date:2019-03-15
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Gratitude
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Gratitude

When Benjamin Francis Leftwich cropped up in 2011 with his debut Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm he was an artist with a promise. Probably gaining more praise than he could handle, resulting in a stint in rehab after the promotion of his second album After The Rain (2016).

Three years on, he is back, out of rehab and trying to set a new course with his third album Gratitude. Results - the promise is still there, but the results are a mixed bag, a combination of personal lyrics, subtle electronics (most of the time), and a bit of veering into Ed Sheeran territory, which is fine, if you like Ed Sheeran.

Leftwich always exhibited great vocal skills, somewhere between the hushed tones of James Yorkston and upper register stylings of James Vincent McMorrow. Those skills have not departed him on Gratitude, it is just a question of how he employs them. Most of the time on this album the accent on his vocals work. This is accentuated by the subtle use of electronic embellishments and rhythms which often work, like on the opening title song and “Look Ma!” one of the better compositions on the album.

Elsewhere, not so much, particularly when the production tries a bit too hard to hit those ‘my favourite sad songs that are not too slow’ type of playlists on Spotify, like on “Tell Me Yo Started To Pray” or “Luzern”. Still, songs like “I Got You” show that Leftwich has the touch that can elevate his music to better pastures than those that insist on making it with absolutely everybody.

What does pull Leftwich throughout is that the personal experiences that he writes and sings about are not overdramatised and remain subtle, like on “Real Friends”. Gratitude could have been a really great album if it didn’t try a bit too hard to please everybody. Well, maybe next time, Leftwich still has that promise.

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